Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when everyone and his dog Tyge is encouraged  to pick up a sappy card , some nasty candy  or ridiculous stuffed animal  in hopes of pleasing his or her particular Valentine .
Sure, it’s never been my favorite holiday  (that honor goes to Halloween) and I never really could take a day devoted to romance  with the initials V.D.  very seriously. And I guess I, of all people, have the utmost reason for despising said date since my first wife left me on Valentine’s Day . Yeah, I know – it’s the stuff that romantic comedies  are made of but a blasted dagger in the backside when it comes to actual real-life experience .
That’s why I feel the need to buck tradition  and hand out to you, me hearties, an ambitious little tome called 100 THINGS I HATE ABOUT VALENTINE’S DAY.
First off, they indoctrinate you when you’re young . You’ve got that horrid little elementary school ritual  of handing out those crappy bulk valentines  that your mom buys at the drug store . Mr. T? GI Joe? Smurfs?  These are NOT icons of love , not the pictorial representations of Amor , not the characters that should be on a Valentine’s Day card! No, these are merely childish drawings etched onto cheap paper  to make a quick buck at the expense of gullible children . Hey, that’s what the holiday is all about . Best you learn at an early age.
But more insidious than the worthless handouts of youth  is that socialistic tenet that your school teacher always handed out: “You must bring enough valentines for everyone in the class !” As if! Forget attempting to impress that pre-adolescent crush you had , you’ve got to hand write  messages to every single little snot in your third grade ! How will Tammy, that cute little pig-tailed lass you’ve been eyeing during kickball ever know you truly care  when you’ve made up lovey notes for D’Angelo, the class screw up, and Ricky, the class bully ? And to make matters worse, when you do the math and compare the number of cards you handed out to the number you received, there is a net loss ! Some stingy bastard didn’t reciprocate ! Sigh. Not even the pink-frosted cupcake at lunch  with the insulin-shock-inducing candy message heart  on top can make up for the hell that’s thrown your way this Valentine’s Day!
Does the experience get any better? No way! Screw optimism ! Next comes middle school, with its inevitable Valentine’s Day Dance . You’ve barely embarked upon puberty, how the heck does anyone expect you to truly understand the subtleties of love, like, lust and libido ? So you have to make a decision on whether to suck up enough courage to ask your current obsession to the dance  or stay at home and watch a very special episode of The Fresh Prince.  Either way, it’s disappointment , desperation  and doubt . But get use to ’em; they’ll be your confreres for many a Valentine’s Day to come .
High school? No better. Aside from the perfunctory dance, there are plenty of parties  and other social gatherings . Couples only, of course . And should you be lucky enough to have a special someone, cast aside apprehension that odds are your post-elementary squeeze will not last  and simply make the most of your time together. Just worry about doing the day right . Worry about the small things that mean so much, like that first date , that first kiss  and that – gulp – first time .
I’ll tell you though; one of the most traumatic things about Valentine’s Day at my high school was the pressure that was put on the students  via the ever-popular secret Valentine exchanges . One year, the school choral group offered to sing songs to that special someone of your choice . I got one. It was anonymous . This blasted choral group invades my class , embarrasses the hell out of me  with a rendition of Baby Face and then won’t tell me who sent it ! Could be the girl of my dreams, I’ll never know .
Of course, all that just goes to show how a body can get the wrong end of the stick. If only that weren’t the tip of the iceberg . As an adult, I learned that Valentine’s Day can be a monstrous reminder of one’s inherent loneliness  or perhaps a gut-wrenching tour de force of love . If there’s someone you’re mildly interested in, do you let on by asking them out ? Risk rejection  and heartache ? Worse yet, if you’re with someone, in a relationship, what do you do, what do you get them ? The expectations are gonna be high  you can bet.
Candy? Some calorie-laden Whitman’s Sampler  that’s sure to get you in hot water with your loved one ? Flowers? Some over-priced  perfumed bouquet  that’s bound to die in a few days , no doubt a metaphor for your love, she’ll charge ? Or a sickeningly sweet Hallmark card  that doesn’t even come close to conveying your real feelings ? Better yet: you could make your own card  but what are you, in kindergarten? How about jewelry? Are you certain of her ring size or positive you know her tastes ? Get that wrong and you’re dead meat. And lingerie ? Puh-lease!
No, presents are only ancillary. The real measure of your worth on Valentine’s is what you plan to do with the day . An evening out might say nothing more than “I am a drone completely lacking in imagination .” An evening in might say nothing more than “I am a selfish bastard who thinks only of my personal gratification .” You’ve got to get the balance just right . Woe betides the sucker who screws it all up .
To sum it all up, Valentine’s Day is in cold, nasty February , the shortest month of them all . It’s most often associated with a gangland massacre , a freakish cherub  who flies around shooting people with arrows  and a crappy movie  starring Denise Richards and David Boreanaz. And don’t even get me started on himself , a man whose story history can’t even get straight . What people don’t realize is we are actually celebrating the date of his beheading ! Maybe that’s why the iconic hearts  are all red .
So put on some romantic music , write some love poems  and turn on the all-new Peanuts special A Charlie Brown Valentine  or some reality TV drek that’s been repackaged as a holiday special . And maybe open a bottle of Cold Duck . Why the hell not? If you’re not in a committed relationship, you might as well just get lousy stinkin’ drunk anyhow . Because what’s the option? Marriage ? Yeah, right.
Happy bloody Valentine’s Day. The only way it could be any good is if it was built around actress Karen Valentine. That I’d celebrate.